January 2, 2004

XFree86 core developers disband - so what?

Author: Joe Barr

It seems like only yesterday the news was leaked on Slashdot that the XFree86 project would be awarded the $25,000 IDG/Linus Torvalds Community Award at the winter LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. Actually, it's been four years now, and my oh my, how things have changed. David Dawes, developer/release engineer for the XFree86 project, posted the news on the project website Wednesday: The XFree86 core developers team has voted to disband itself.

Dawes offered no further explanation as to the cause of the disbanding, and as of this morning had not responded to the email query we sent Wednesday, but there is plenty of unofficial "buzz" about the situation. Most of the unofficial comments we've heard point to the fact that the core developers team was not performing up to its name. In fact, it was seen by some as being a roadblock to continued enhancements and improvements in XFree86.

One anonymous source told NewsForge on IRC that several developers have departed the XFree86 camp during the past year over the lack of responsiveness of the core team. He cited the Xouvert Project as one example of the "Fork you very much, XFree86" movement.

Everybody involved, obviously including the core developers who did the voting, seems to think this is "a good thing." But nobody really seems to know what happens next. The project itself lives on, as do a number of others that might one day take its place.

Havoc Pennington, the GTK/Gnome guru now involved with freedesktop.org, told NewsForge, "It isn't obvious what the way forward is." He added, "On freedesktop.org we host several X projects." Pennington noted that the projects are not endorsed by Freedesktop.org, merely hosted by them.

As to the future, Havoc told us, "There are active discussions between various parties about combining efforts and how to do so, but it isn't clear yet what will happen, at least not to me. The good news is that a lot of people are interested in moving forward and contributing, and the centralized hosting is a step in the right direction."

Stay tuned. More details as we learn them.


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